Unneccessary Complexity in Scientific Terminology?

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In the highlighted quote in the article titled “Ado-Trastuzumab Emtansine Fails to Replace Standard of Care in First-Line Metastatic Breast Cancer,” which appeared in on page 3 of the July 10 issue of The ASCO Post, a most remarkable sentence was constructed:

T-DM1 and T-DM1 plus pertuzumab demonstrated a noninferior progression-free survival compared to trastuzumab/taxane, but they were not found to be superior to it.

I’ve been retired for 15 years and am astounded by the advances made since then, especially the vast array of monoclonal antibody and genetically determined treatments. Astounding complexity! But some things are made more complex than they have to be.

When treatment A demonstrates a “noninferior progression-free survival” compared to treatment B, but [at the same time] is “not found to be superior” to it, one wonders what’s going on. After three or four readings, it dawns: The new treatment is just about the same as the old, one way or the other.

Please try to cut through the imperious pretense of erudition. “Noninferior,” for example, is a term that should be abandoned. ■

Charles P. Duvall MD, MACP
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina





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